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NATO Chief Praises Russia's Bosnia Force

Moscow, Jan. 25 (RFE/RL) - NATO's supreme commander today thanked Russian leaders, the Russian people and the mothers and fathers of soldiers who are contributing to the Bosnia peace keeping mission.

Wrapping up a three-day visit to Russia, General George Joulwan said in Moscow that the force was "well-trained, well-equipped, well-led and highly motivated."

Late last year NATO and Russia reached an agreement allowing Russian soldiers to take part in the NATO-led peacekeeping force without technically taking orders from a NATO commander.

Joulwan, who had earlier met with Defense Minister Pavel Grachev and General Mikhail Kolesnikov, Russia's chief of staff, said he had also been pleased with training "under tough winter conditions" by Russia's 119th Airborne Regiment, which he visited yesterday.

He conceded there had been "some slight delays" in deploying Russia's airborne brigade of 1,500 men, many of whom were moving slowly by train through Ukraine, Hungary and Serbia. About 420 Russians have already been deployed in northeastern Bosnia near the town of Brcko.